Series / Break the Bank (1985)
Time is the key that will open this vault door for one of these lucky couples, as they try to... BREAK THE BANK!

The third of three different Game Shows with this name, from Kline & Friends note  was syndicated from 1985-86. Married couples played puzzles in this format, competing for time to play an elaborate Bonus Round. In this round, the winning couple participates in various timed stunts; completing a stunt won a punch card which could be used to help "break the Bank" and win a cash jackpot.

It was Gene Rayburn's last series on broadcast TV; Joe Farago replaced him fourteen weeks into the run.

Game Show Tropes in use:

  • Bonus Round: The Prize Vault, which originally used stunts but was later replaced by the Master Puzzle. The Bank in and of itself is a sort of Bonus-Bonus Round.
  • Bonus Space: The Number Jumbler in the Stunt era; choose a stunt, hear the noise, and hit a big button linked to a big octagonal monitor; whatever number it would stop on meant you could get that number in additional Bank Cards.
  • Confetti Drop: Any time the Bank was broken.
  • Game Show Winnings Cap: During the Stunt era, couples could stay until reaching $75,000 or were defeated, with any winnings over that amount being donated to charity. Upon the inception of the Master Puzzle, couples retired upon breaking the Bank, with the same winnings limit in place.
    • The credits noted that the $75,000 cap was "network policy", as the station the show aired on in New York was the flagship of CBS, WCBS-2; so it had to follow CBS' winnings cap at the time.
  • Personnel:
  • Progressive Jackpot: The Bank itself, which started out at $20,000 in cash and prizes (including a brand-new car) and would increase every day in cash and prizes added until it was broken, at which point it would reset to $20K.
  • Show The Folks At Home: A hint for the subject of the front-game puzzles, using the "category reveal" sound from Tic-Tac-Dough.
  • Whammy: During the Master Puzzle era, one of the Bank Cards (now lined up on a podium near the Bank itself) was actually a Bankrupt Card. If it was inserted into the Bank slot, it took away any prizes the contestants had already been awarded from any Bank Cards inserted that day. In addition, the Bankrupt Card remained in the Bank Card selection on every show, regardless of whether it had been inserted into the Bank slot. At least in theory, a couple could narrow down their choice of Bank Cards to the Bank-Breaking Card and the Bankrupt Card.

This version provides examples of:

  • The Artifact: Once the stunts were ditched, the keypad on the Prize Vault door and the display on the host's podium became this (for the latter, they just covered up the display); the Number Jumbler monitor merely became a background fixture displaying a "starburst".
  • Ascended Extra: Before becoming host, Farago did a Prize Vault stunt in three episodes (including the first episode; there he was a fast-talker who would award an electric range, though he wasn't picked).
  • Obstacle Exposition: During the Stunt era, naturally.
  • Pilot: Based on the photos seen in ads for the show from trade magazines of the time, it wasn't all that different: the Prize Vault door's neon signage was differently colored, the contestant podiums were a bit different, the signs next to the stunts had the value of the prizes written on them, and naturally, the Bank was broken. (And based on the third image, there may have been another one done, too.)
  • Saying Sound Effects Out Loud: In one episode, Rayburn randomly imitated the sound effects after they played, ie. the "boing" effect used to input the seconds to open the Prize Vault, and the "code appears" sound effect when a card was inserted into the Bank.
  • Scenery Porn: The set was actually pretty cool looking, especially the Bank itself.
  • Title Drop: "You want to find the one Bank Card that will break the Bank."
  • Title Scream: Done as a throw to commercial in the Farago era.
  • Transatlantic Equivalent: A French version hosted by Michel Robbe, La Porte Magique ("The Magic Door"), aired in the late 1980s on the now-defunct LaCinq. This version used the Stunt format (complete with the 5-10-20-40-80-100 payouts and even the Number Jumbler) and a pretty similar set. Here's an intro (Bank is at F127,475), and a full episode (Bank is at F135,390).